A member of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot who was jailed over an anti-Putin protest is to make her UK acting debut in a play about artistic freedom.

Maria Alyokhina, who served a two-year prison sentence after performing a satirical song in a Moscow cathedral, will appear in Burning Doors, a new production by the Belarus Free Theatre.

The Belarus company is banned in their own country.

The play will explore “the role of contemporary artists in dictatorial societies” and examine “what happens to people when they are declared enemies of the state simply for making art.”

Alyokhina will join the production, which tours the UK, in Leicester.

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help raise £20,000 to bring the theatre group, whose members operate under considerable personal risk in Minsk, to Britain. A Manchester performance of Burning Doors will be live-streamed.

Burning Doors is based on real-life stories of torture and imprisonment told by Alyokhina, Russian political artist Petr Pavlensky, and Oleg Sentsov, an incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker.

Alyokhina was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after Pussy Riot’s balaclava-clad performance of a “Punk Prayer” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. “Nobody can take away my inner freedom,” she said at her trial.

Burning Doors will explore the “psychological impact of imprisonment, exile and forced migration.”

Nicolai Khalezin, co-founding Artistic Director of Belarus Free Theatre: “We don’t have time to sit and wait. The people who desperately fight for art, who desperately say what they think, and sacrifice so many things are worth our solidarity and support”.

The Belarus group will also stage a UK production of Tomorrow I Was Always a Lion, based on the memoir of recovery from schizophrenia penned by Norwegian psychologist, Arnhild Lauveng.

This post originally appeared on iNews on June 1, 2016, and has been reposted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.